I’ve donated today to Episcopal Relief and Development in response to the devastating quake and tsunami in Japan. We’re four miles inland here in West Los Angeles, safe from anything short of the greatest tsunami on record. But my mother, in my aptly named hometown of Carmel by-the-Sea, received a “reverse 911” automated call at 6:00AM today. She was jarred out of a deep sleep by a tsunami warning issued to all coastal residents in Carmel and Pebble Beach. My childhood home is just 400 meters from the high tide line, but up a fairly steep embankment. Still, my mother thought it best to stay away from the water.

Local news reports suggest damage as far south as Morro Bay in San Luis Obispo county, and genuine devastation in harbor areas near the Oregon border, particularly in the grittily picturesque Crescent City. Praying for Japan, but concerned too for the beaches and low-lying areas of my home state.

If you don’t want to donate to ERD, feel free to check out this piece at the Huffington Post. Lots of links to other good outfits doing great work on the ground.

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Off until Monday

I’m off to the city of my birth for the weekend, marking my beloved step-mother’s 60th birthday and my first Father’s Day. Posting resumes on Monday, the third anniversary of my own Dad’s death and the first day of summer school.

Recent posts are once again open for comments.

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As we say goodbye to 2008, let me wish everyone a happy 2009.

I do do New Year’s Resolutions, though I don’t always keep them. Here are three of mine for the year to come:

1. Grow comfortable with exercising less often. Most people resolve to exercise more, but I’ve had the opposite problem more often than not. Exercise is good, but not at the expense of other obligations. If I can work out four or five days a week, with only one of those workouts longer than two hours, I’ll still be fit but will have more time for others. And as long as I can control my anxiety about getting out of shape, I’ll make major progress.

2. Fritter away less time on Facebook.

3. Be better at friendship maintenance.

Feel free to share your resolutions in the comments.

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I’m fighting off the flu — three days before the Pasadena Marathon, which I still hope to run. Posting returns soon.

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A brief escape

One way to escape election anxiety is to disappear for a while. I’ll be out of the country again (briefly) from this afternoon until late Sunday night. No blogging until Monday, November 3.

Play nice in the comments sections, please. I think I’ll have some wireless access with an ability to moderate, but it will be intermittent.

And a reminder of my endorsements:

Barack Obama for President.

Yes on California Propositions 1A,2,3,11, and 12.
No on California Propositions 4,5,6,7,8,9,10.

Yes on Los Angeles County Measure R (transportation).
Yes on San Francisco Measure K (Sex worker rights).

Eighteen hour days and classrooms with no chairs

It’s always tougher for me to blog during summer school, and it will be especially so this summer. I’m teaching my usual load of three six-week summer classes, starting at 8:00AM and finishing around 3:00PM. What’s different is that the classroom in which I normally lecture (steps from my office) is undergoing renovations. I’m teaching my three classes in three separate buildings on campus, including a computer lab and a sprawling room in the main gymnasium. When I walked into my first class yesterday, there were no chairs in the room — my students had to sit on the floor, and the be-skirted had to stand. In my second class, I had 45 students enrolled in a classroom with a maximum fire code capacity of 40, and chairs for only 37. Life in the trenches indeed!

I’m not complaining, not really. I’ll be beginning my sixteenth year at Pasadena City College this fall, and this is my fourteenth summer session. My youngest students today were getting potty-trained when I started, and more and more these days, I learn of students whose parents are both younger than I am. Two days after Father’s day, I feel more paternal than ever.

This morning started at 4:45AM, as I wanted to get in a quick seven-miler before the heat set in. I’m participating in a volunteer event at the Kabbalah Centre in West Los Angeles tonight, so it will be more or less a non-stop eighteen hour day. I like busy, of course, except that it does give me precious little time to blog. I’ll see what I can squeeze in later.

And for those family and friends wanting an update, my wife called this morning from some remote jungle camp in Uganda, and is doing just fine. She’ll be home Saturday.


Very busy day, including a trip to the DMV to have my picture taken for my license renewal. I’ve got a post in mind about the reluctance of young people today to rush to get their licenses, which is a striking change from the experience of my generation. It will have to wait.

In the meantime, I realize that I am wearing the same shirt I had on the last time I had my license photo taken. I may like me my fashions, but I do get a heck of a lot of wear out of the clothes I buy.

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Tired and busy

There is no sense on my part that having an extra day this month means more time for anything. It’s a very busy Friday, and I’m exhausted from the week, so this is all the posting I can manage. I finally sent off a submission for the Yes Means Yes anthology, and have some new writing ideas floating around in my head. And what I really want to do is lie on the couch and see if I can find the Cal-Washington State women’s basketball game on TV.

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Not much today…

The substantive blogging will return later in the week… I’ve been writing too much lately, perhaps, and need to take a very short one or two-day break.

And I’m tired. I had one of those nineteen-hour days yesterday: up at 4:45AM for boxing class, four classes to teach, meetings to go to, student email to return, and — of course — blog posts to write. Last night after giving a midterm, I went home; my wife and I had a good friend over for dinner. The three of us stayed up late talking, catching up, eating absurd amounts of hummus — and we were up late enough to watch raccoons and possums appear in our yard. Bed was well after midnight.

And the alarm came awfully early this morning. I have midterms and letters of rec to write and more meetings to go to and neither the time nor the inclination to write.

So many people I know and love have had their lives turned upside down by these fires. The smoke is everywhere this morning, and several of my students with families in the burn areas have already told me that they won’t be coming to class. They are very much in my thoughts and prayers.

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Monday morning

I’m in the office early; I met my boxing trainer at 5:30 this morning instead of the usual 6:00. It was a late night last night for us as well; we spent the day with my stepmother and sister in Santa Barbara. Lots of traffic coming back to Los Angeles, and we had “chinchilla duty” awaiting us. (With seven chinchillas, playtime takes an absolute minimum of ninety minutes a night.)

We stopped by the Santa Barbara cemetary yesterday morning. My father’s headstone is at last in place, and as I had expected, I became a bit tearful at seeing it for the first time. In the afternoon, we walked around the lagoon at UCSB where I had first walked with him as a toddler nearly forty years ago. It was a lovely, breezy, warm day. And though people always say this sort of thing, nearly a year and a half after his death, I still can’t believe my father is gone. Except that in some important sense, he isn’t.

And at Inside Higher Education, an expanded version of my post from a few weeks back on “educrats.” I changed what I thought were the weakest parts of the piece, but kept the polemical tone in place.

More to come.

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